Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir Sprint 27 | 07 | 2012Scotcars rating

    How does Alfa add further spark to its MiTo supermini ... by adding TwinAir of course


    The name Alfa Romeo has always stirred excitement, but their flame has been at something of a low peep around the start of the 21st Century. But fear not: there’s some good evidence that the Alfa fire is back with some cracking models – not least the Giulietta which has revived some of the sporty and stylish sexiness we used to associate with the name.

    But of course these are austere times and we’re all having to tighten our belts while keeping one eye on saving the planet at the same time. Thankfully Alfa’s engineers have come up with a very clever new car which can be easy on the pocket and the environment, but at the flick of a switch can return some excitement on the open road.

    The two-cylinder Alfa MiTo TwinAir is a very clever piece of automotive engineering. The sporty supermini, which was launched in 2009, now has a superlight, supersmall 875cc engine which, with 85bhp, is the cleanest and most economical in its class with sub-100 g/km CO2 emissions and runs for almost 70 miles with every gallon.

    It’s the first for Alfa of a series of two-cylinder engines which has been developed by parent company Fiat Powertrain at a cost of 350 million Euros over the past two years by a team of more than 200 people. It’s already in Fiat’s 500 and Punto. It may be new, but the engineers say it’s had a huge amount of testing and according to one of the team it’s “bombproof”, which is why Alfa are confident about giving it a five year warranty.

    Where Alfa have scored a winner though is to incorporate their excellent DNA selector into the car so that as well as All-Weather and Natural (a change from the previous Normal setting), there’s the Dynamic setting which changes the character of the engine and returns lively performance from the same small power unit.  

    On the road

    Thanks to the high speed turbo, the performance is equivalent to that of a four-cylinder 1400cc engine, but through the DNA selector you can decide how you want to drive with either economy or performance. On the road in Natural setting the car is pretty subdued with lighter steering for city work, but by flicking it up to Dynamic the car leaps into action with an immediate surge in power and altogether better response with higher speed gearchanges and stiffer suspension to keep it more firmly on the road.

    For such a small engine (10% lighter and 23% smaller than the standard unit) it can certainly deliver the goods with amazing torque at low revs. It will actually pull away happily in third gear at less than 1500rpm. The All Weather setting is for when the conditions deteriorate: the TwinAir accommodates those changes by adjusting the steering and braking for safety. Without any specific badging, the only indication of the presence of the small engine is from the outside on tickover where there’s a distinctive two-cylinder firing from the exhaust.  

    Comfort and Safety

    The stylists have done a good job in retaining the Alfa appeal in a small car which should keep the green lobby happy. Inside it has all the right design touches and it looks and feels like a lot more than a small car. It is at the heart of Alfa’s campaign to lower the average age of their customers and to encourage more females into what has been a male dominated brand. With low running costs, tempting tax benefits for company drivers and some of the best residual values, the TwinAir is expected to take more than a third of all MiTo sales.  

    Should I Buy One?

    As a second car with a dual sporty or economical personality, it does the job.  

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    Alan Douglas

    Watch our video of Alan driving the Alfa MiTo TwinAir at Thruxton

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £14,150 / £14,575
    Engine / Power: 875cc / 85bhp
    How fast?: 12.5secs / Max 108mph
    How big/heavy?: L4063mm W1720mm H1446mm / Weight 1130kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 67.3mpg / 98g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 9 / Band A £0
    Alternatives: Audi A1; Mini; Citroen DS3; VW Polo

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